Tried and tested: The waiter's friend. Photo: Quentin Jones
What's the best way to open a non-screw-cap bottle of wine? Wine knife (aka waiter's friend)? A corkscrew? What kind?
The romance of cork, eh? Nothing sounds quite like that glorious, slippery pop. And nothing sounds quite like the cursing when the cork disintegrates. For a while there, during the glorious Screw Cap Revolution of the noughties, we Antipodeans looked as if we might be largely freed from the tyranny of cork and its tendency, too often, to ruin perfectly good wine. When New World winemakers abandoned corks en masse, I conducted a Maoist purge of the litter of corkscrews I'd acquired over years of wishing there was an easier, faster way to extract the thing separating me from my next glass of wine.
But we still need a corkscrew in the house, for older wines and European buys. Of the dozen-plus corkscrews in our second kitchen drawer - the classic T-shape, the old-school double-winged model, the plasticky promotional ''waiter's friend'' no self-respecting waiter would ever befriend, the Italian designer number, and quite a few others - I have kept two.
One is an ageing, basic-model screwpull - the kind where you keep winding until the coil makes its way into the cork, pulls it out, and screws it off again. I love it because it is idiot-proof and requires no muscle, although some say it can be a little rough on older, fragile corks. (You might want a special corkscrew for these - the kind with two flat prongs to insert either side of the cork.) The second corkscrew I kept is a waiter's friend. It's a good one but I rarely use it because wielding one of these with panache takes practice. My husband, however, scorns anything else.
There is a point to this: you can read all the consumer surveys you like but the best corkscrew is the one that works best for you.
That said, there are a couple of things to look for: a sharp point and a coil that's sturdy but not too thick, maybe with a Teflon-type coating for ease of entry. Make sure it feels comfortable in your hand - especially if you have to grip it hard. If you fancy a waiter's friend, a curved design will probably feel better than a straight one.